Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Pause

I will not be able to write any substantial blogs for a few months because I am trying to finish my dissertation and graduate, but here are a few things to ponder until I get back to all of you:

1. What might we make of the current trend of falsity? Some basic examples of this include plastic surgery, airbrushing, fake tans, and hair extensions. Other, more elaborate examples, include trolling, The Colbert Report, and ironic websites which purport to be right wing, for example, but which are actually making fun of the people they claim to be. It is the second group of examples I find most fascinating. It takes a very keen eye and mind to recognize what is actually going on, what information can be trusted, who is actually being honest about who he/she is. Why have we become so twisted and tricky about information? Is this useful?

2. I've been hearing that the "recession" has been over for several years now, yet more than half of my students in a recent class raised their hands when I asked how many of them had recently been unemployed or underemployed. Is there anyone who will finally admit that we have been in a depression for decades?

3. Vincent and I have refused to work in education positions where we have to rank students or needlessly test them, we have refused to invest our money in corporations who take part in practices that pretty much enslave people in other countries (no 401Ks here), and we have still managed to eat and write and look somewhat stylish doing it (and we continually watch South Park's episode on SMUG, to guard against that, too, 'kay). Are there other people who have managed to avoid Wall Street or other immoral workplaces and not end up on the actual street? I'd like to know who you are.

4. Finally, for those of us who do have employment right now, we often work all the time, even if we are at home, we have to continually check email, have our phone on in case something comes up - our schedules are not set, we are always thinking of work, even if we are not in the workplace. We have many different tasks to accomplish because our employers are unable to hire the right number of people for the jobs that need to be done. Much of our work goes unpaid, therefore, if we do get vacation time, we cannot afford to get away from the concrete and steel. This phenomenon does not allow us to have leisure time. I'm reading Paul Shepard right now and he, and other scholars he draws from, claim that leisure time is what allowed humans to evolve. We had time to imagine, contemplate, play, process and develop new ideas. I am helping a group of high school seniors write essays that hopefully will show how dynamic they are to scholarship committees and I was horrified to learn that they have no leisure time, I imagine because they are working with me and other tutors during all their free time. What can we do to ensure that we all have time to let our minds and bodies wander? Perhaps that is the only way to come up with solutions to some important problems. I find this extremely important.

That said, I will go back to my constant work. :) Wish me luck!


Anonymous said...

It is indeed strange that there are conservatives who actually believe Cobert is conservative, though many things he says and does actually point out to him undermining the base he is supposed to support.

Sadly, your point on there being a depression that has gone on for decades is very real, and only made itself visible after the criminal acts that inflated the economy into an exaggerated expansion in the 80's and 90's began to contract.

Work seems to be on all the time, and leisure time is really does nt exist nowadays. Nor do foods that are without corporate taint, or lands that are not bought up by corporations to extend their agendas. many films and televison shows are on a level of vapidness that is simply horrifying, and unfortunately the education system is such a failure that we could coauthor several books examining and discussing this point.

I wish you the best in your endeavors and hope that you can live life by your rules in the chaotic maelstrom that is modern life.

Irony has indeed been impaled on the spikes of a reality show saturated population that cannot examine the machinations of the modern global corporate infrastructure. Best Wishes, Zim.

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz said...

Great fortune to you!

Suesoz A said...

Your posts always make me think!

I rejected my original long response because I found myself trying, unsuccessfully, to defend myself for failing miserably at your #3 when what it comes down to is that, despite my condemnation of it, I am a slacker and complete cog in the corporate machine. My contentment with the status quo confirms that I am a tool. That said, I am among those people - harder to find these days - who 1) have a good job, 2) like my job, and 3) since I'm in a support position, never take my work home with me. When I leave work, I completely leave work, so I'm highly successful at avoiding what you describe in #4. This was actually the major draw when I abandoned teaching (which had been stressing me out so much I was taking Sominex because otherwise I could not sleep and face my classes the next day); I moved instead to a job that is just that, a job. I chose to work to live instead of living to work.

Now a response to #1. Funny that I completely condemn the first variety of examples - the cosmetic falsities - and laughed out loud this morning at the commercial in which a woman realizes she doesn't have time to whiten her teeth before some engagement - oh, the horror! But I very much appreciate your "more elaborate" examples (sans the trolling), like Colbert and other such parodies. I think they are extremely clever, and I value that their consumption requires the use of a mind superior to what Zim dubs the "reality show saturated population"!

Am I being SMUG? Somehow I usually manage to be a bit self-deprecating and a bit vain at the same time. Guess that's just part of my charm. :D

Thanks for shaking up my brain.

Grisel said...

Hey Suzie (I'm assuming that is you) - funny to read your take on the things I posted. I wouldn't be so hard on you. The choices are not easy. Because I don't have kids, I have had the time and energy to take on different kinds of freelance work. I can't imagine doing that with a multi-person family.

Furthermore, I completely agree with you in regards to regular teaching schedules - I can't do it, which is why I take on work that isn't regular public school work hours. I simply don't know how classroom teachers manage, especially in schools that lack funding or have a weak support system (which is many of them).

Regarding the falsity stuff, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I find Colbert so incredibly funny, but the saturation of sarcasm and irony in the media makes me wonder if young people will ever know what is real. Reality media isn't real, "news entertainment" shows aren't the real news, and the actual news is often not news but commercials in disguise or policy promotion. If we can't trust any news as "real" then exactly how is it that we are using information? What is the purpose of this kind of communication?

No need to answer anything, just a few more thoughts that came to the surface.